When people are making big bucks and are idolized by millions of people all around the world it will always result in prima donnas, and this is particularly true in the sporting world. The Italian meaning of a prima donna is “first lady”, and refers to the chief female singer in an opera. This term is used to describe somebody who acts like the star of the show and has an inflated view of their importance, resulting in them being very temperamental and what could be described as a diva.
It is unfortunate, but a very high percentage of professional athletes are famous for being fussy, temperamental, moody, arrogant, vain and believe that they are better than everyone else. As this list will demonstrate, you will also find that a lot of the time the players that behave in this manner are also the ones that excel in the sport and they consequently believe that their individual talents make them more important than those around them. Although highly talented and usually successful, these players often do not command a huge amount of respect, they will frequently clash with teammates and staff and they will often bounce around from team to team never quite settling anywhere.
These prima donnas are consistently making headlines, and usually not for a good reason. This exposure will often only inflate their ego and make them even more infuriating, but of courses some of their antics can hugely entertaining and particularly when they throw their toys out the pram (which is often). It can be immensely satisfying seeing these prima donnas being taken down a peg on the field of play, but they will often get their way and it is down to their talents that they have developed this inflated ego and sense that they are the star of the show.
Here are the top 15 prima donnas in all of sports.
15 Sidney Crosby
One of the most despised players in the NHL but also one of the greatest; Sidney Crosby has developed a reputation as both a shady player and a prima donna. It does not take too much research to uncover evidence of his dirty play, but for this list we shall be focusing on his diva like behaviour (which also requires little research). Throughout his career, Crosby has been known to dive (a lot), refuse post-game handshakes, whine endlessly to the officials and be a cry-baby (as labeled by John Tortorella) and generally have a ‘holier than thou’ attitude. It does not help that the media seems to have a constant spotlight on Crosby, which will always be a huge ego boost for the Penguins captain.
14 Dwight Howard
While Dwight Howard appears to have matured during his time in Houston, he still has a label as a prima donna due to his behavior and attitude both in Orlando and Los Angeles. Howard tried to get former Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy sacked, he went back and forth about opting in or out of his last year and then eventually demanded to be traded (classic prima donna behavior). Once traded to the Lakers, he made the ultimate mistake of upsetting Kobe. Howard became upset that he wasn’t getting enough touches and that Kobe was shooting too much, and he had a noticeably poor attitude on the floor which sparked a frosty feud between Howard and Bryant (like alpha males, teams can usually only have one prima donna).
Howard has all the tools to be the best Big Man in the game, but he needs to buckle down and play hard instead of creating drama everywhere he goes.
13 Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Although highly entertaining, Zlatan Ibrahimovic is a prima donna and one with astonishing self belief. He refers to himself as “the Zlatan”, which is a clear sign of narcissism, but it is not just his arrogance which makes him a prima donna. “The Zlatan” has clashed heavily with his own teammates, he frequently called out his former coach Pep Guardiola, he has insulted the entire team he has played for and this has seen him jump from team to team. He has landed at PSG, but he recently found himself in hot water after stating that France was a “sh*t country”, whoops. Zlatan plays for himself and will often whine when things do not go his way, but equally his outlandish behavior is hugely entertaining and the next incident can only be around the corner.
12 Kobe Bryant
Kobe wants to win, but he also wants to be the one with the ball in his hands. If this isn’t happening then he will whine, moan and sulk and generally kick up a fuss until he gets his way, and this has become more and more apparent as his career has gone on. He is an incredibly high maintenance player, and this is what ultimately split up the Kobe & Shaq duo (one of the greatest of all time), and it is also what has set the Lakers back many, many years.
He may have brought success to the Lakers, but his prima donna behavior and eating up gigantic cap space with a ludicrous two year, $48.5 million contract extension now makes them one of the worst franchises in the league. He commands respect and is one of the all-time greats with a phenomenal work ethic, but he is also one of the most high maintenance athletes in the world.
11 Brett Favre
Prima donnas like nothing more than to be in the spotlight, and the endless will he, wont he retirement speculation with Brett Favre was his way of staying in the media spotlight in the late stages of his career. Favre made the huge mistake of overdoing this and toyed with the fans way too much, and this has now tarnished his impressive legacy as one of the all-time great QB’s. He is now instead regarded as one of the biggest prima donnas in all of sports due to his need for attention and selfishness, and his demise should serve as a warning to players as they reach the end of their careers.
10 LeBron James
A man who refers to himself as “The King” and “The Chosen One”, LeBron clearly sees himself as a player that is greater than the sum of the team. Whilst he is unquestionably an all-time great, and the player most would choose to build a team around in today’s game, this inflated ego also makes him irritating and a prima donna. This is particularly evident through “The Decision” and “The Return”, where he felt the need to make a song and dance about leaving Cleveland and then returning this season; nobody else does this. Additionally, he will constantly whinge to the referees whilst on the court when calls do not go his way and is consequently a huge prima donna, albeit a very talented one.
9 Dez Bryant
It took Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant just 2 days of training camp to earn the label of a prima donna, as the All-American refused to take part in a rookie hazing task of carrying another player’s pads. This shows an initial lack of respect and someone that has an inflated view of their importance, and this has continued to show this over his career. He frequently berates his teammates, throws tantrums on the sidelines and has even had to have a team of “advisors” to help him function as an adult. These advisors, employed by Jerry Jones, set out guidelines such as a curfew and rules surrounding strip clubs. He may deny it adamantly, but Dez Bryant is a classic diva-receiver.
8 Mario Balotelli
Many of the top managers around the world have tried and failed to tame Balotelli, who is a prima donna both on and off the pitch. On the pitch he visibly sulks and will walk instead of run if he does not receive the ball enough, and he will then often lash out at other players and he has picked up a number of red cards in his career for his volatile behaviour. His off-pitch antics are well documented and show his immaturity and need to be in the spotlight, but it is mainly his clashes with management that show his prima donna behavior.
In all sports you must respect your coach, but Balotelli has often openly disrespected the man in charge and even got into a physical altercation with Roberto Mancini when the pair were at Man City. His now famous goal celebration of revealing a shirt that says “why always me?” sums up his diva like personality. At just 24 years old, Balotelli’s behavior has ruined his career as the majority of top teams will not want to gamble on the forward who will show occasional flashes of brilliance interspersed by moments of madness.
7 Manny Ramirez
The antics and odd behavior of 12-time All-Star Manny Ramirez was often shrugged off as “Manny being Manny”, but make no mistakes, Ramirez is a classic prima donna. Throughout his career, Manny showed a lack of respect for the game, his teammates and the fans, and this is through things such as taking toilet or cell phone breaks during games, refusing to play, getting in fights with teammates, being rude to the media and even faking injuries. Having eccentric characters in sports can add entertainment value, but it can also be particularly frustrating when it is swept under the rug as “Manny being Manny”.
6 Terrell Owens
TO wasted no time at all demonstrating his prima donna behavior when he joined the NFL, and ultimately his behavior now overshadows all his great accomplishments during his 15-year career. A few examples include slamming his own teammate and team on the radio, spitting at another player, inflammatory celebrations, whining when he does not get enough touches and generally showing no remorse for his diva like behavior, which saw him bounce from team to team around the league. He also makes the cringe worthy mistake of referring to himself in third person; a classic sign of inflated ego and self worth.
5 Sean Avery
Former NY Ranger Sean Avery is such a prima donna that he was going to star in a play, but living up to his reputation he had a “meltdown” just days before opening, all over a pizza. He has also tried his hand at modeling and spent one offseason interning at Vogue Magazine. There was then plenty of controversy during his NHL career which earned him a reputation both as a dirty player and a prima donna, including showing a blatant lack of respect for the game and other players, shouting obscenities at a fan, calling for his coach, John Tortorella to be sacked on social media and of course his gross “sloppy seconds” comment in relation to players dating his ex girlfriends.
4 Floyd Mayweather Jr.
When you are the highest paid athlete in the world and boast a 48-0-0 record, it seems inevitable that you will be arrogant and believe you are the better than the rest. Floyd “Money” Mayweather Jr. goes beyond this however, and flaunts his wealth and status to a whole new level. He shows a blatant lack of respect, abuses his power and although the domestic violence puts him in an entirely different and much worse category, it shows that he is temperamental and lashes out when things do not go his way.
His demands that he gave to a promoter for his Australian tour (complete with a 31-person entourage) included a never ending supply of Gummi Bears and M&M’s, a barber available 24/7, a butler, chef, makeup artists and much, much more. He also has Justin Bieber in his entourage, need I say more?
3 Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods has joined Lance Armstrong in an epic fall from grace, and now Tiger is seen as a selfish, money grabbing prima donna. This contrasts hugely to his reputation earlier in his career, where he was seen as a squeaky clean, charming and an incredibly marketable athlete. In addition to cursing, moaning and pouting on the course, he is known to coldly ignore autograph seeking children and act incredibly rudely to those around him. His former coach has revealed that Woods would do things such as get up and leave a restaurant as soon as he had finished regardless if everyone else had finished or not, as well as discourage his wife from showing any emotion on the golf course. The infidelity scandal and his insincere apology ensure that Tiger ticks all the boxes to be a certified prima donna.
2 Alex Rodriguez
There are many reasons why A-Rod is one of the most hated athletes in the world, and his prima donna like behaviour is certainly up there. There seems to be a never ending line of actresses he is seen dating, and then it is revealed he has cheated on them (after being unfaithful to his wife), plus he has reportedly made passes at the wives and girlfriends of his teammates and this is just the tip of the iceberg. A bizarre and rather narcissistic photoshoot for Details does him few favors, plus there are rumors that he has a painting of himself as a centaur in his home. There are even stories of him making a clubhouse attendant load his toothbrush with toothpaste after every game, because obviously he is too important to do this himself.
1 Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo is the definition of a prima donna both on and off the pitch. On the pitch he whinges and complains to both referees and his teammates when things are not going his way, and astonishingly he even showed his frustration and refused to celebrate when one of his teammates scored instead of him. He is also clearly very vain, and has gone as far as to change his hairstyle at half time. He of course also opened his own museum about himself, complete with a waxwork model of himself. Incredibly, this waxwork even has its own stylist who comes to brush its hair once a month. Overall, it seems that Ronaldo is more fussed with his individual accomplishments than the teams, and he will consequently sulk whether his team wins or not. This, and his extreme vanity and sense of self importance, make Cristiano the biggest prima donna in sports.